State-of-the-art scientific instruments

We have purchased state-of-the-art instruments to bring science to decision-making.

The SonTek FlowTracker2 is used to measure stream flow.

Updated May 14, 2022

Rather than continue to wait, and rely upon government entities to do the field studies that are needed to validate the groundwater availability model and provide empirical data to decision-maker, Environmental Stewardship has used the public funds from our individual and business donors to purchase the instruments and equipment needed to get the work started now.

Though we have, over the last five years, been able to provide the science to educate the Groundwater Management Area 12 (GMA-12) representatives regarding the potential impacts of groundwater pumping on surface waters such as the Colorado & Brazos Rivers and their tributaries, and have been able to provide a source of funding needed to update the Groundwater Availability Model (GAM) to better represent groundwater and surface water interactions, we have not yet been able to convince the groundwater districts in GMA-12 to collect the field data necessary to validate the model.  Lacking the field data, they are unwilling to implement desired future conditions to protect surface waters from the predicted impacts of the groundwater pumping that are included in the current 2022 Desired Future Conditions (DFCs) for the area.

Likewise, we have made our case for potentially unreasonable surface water impact in a contested case hearing on the Lower Colorado River Authority’s application for a groundwater permit from Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District — and won on the merits three times.  Two SOAH administrative law judges have recommended, and the Lost Pines Board of Directors have twice decided, that the combined pumping in the District has the potential of unreasonable impacts on the Colorado River, and have ordered the LCRA to monitor surface waters as a special condition in the permit recently granted.  Yet, the LCRA,  is positioning to appeal these findings and the decisions that are implemented in the groundwater permit that has been issued to the LCRA.

Regardless of these wins, we can expect that monitoring will not be started in the near future.  Meanwhile, with the pumping is already occurring, and the damage is taking place now.  Decision-makers need to have the field data to confirm the occurrences so they can make informed decisions.

With the science training and experience needed, Environmental Stewardship has initiated the Water Monitoring Project and taken the initial steps of purchasing the instruments and equipment to do the field work needed to start gathering the data to inform decision being made on a local and area-wide basis.

These are the instruments that have been purchased for the Water Monitoring Project

SonTek FlowTracker2 (FT2) handheld Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter (ADV®) has all the technology the monitoring industry has grown to know and trust with the original FlowTracker, but now comes with functional, modernized features including Bluetooth, GPS and a large color screen at the request of hydrologists, researchers and scientists who have made the FlowTracker their instrument of choice. This instrument, in the hands of monitoring specialists, will provide defensible data correctly, the first time, every time, and minimize data handling back at the mobile lab/office. Each step of the way FT2 guides the operator along the measurement process with visual prompts and SmartQC audio alerts just in case something important needs attention. FT2 handheld software is intuitive, easy to navigate and includes real-time plots of point data, QC parameters, and measurement verticals, giving the specialist everything needed at-a-glance. Some of the major improvements come straight from field users. Here is an example of a typical data summary from a recent monitoring event.  T

FlowTracker in Field Case

FlowTracker ready to travel. QR code connects to webpage.

The FlowTracker will be used to measure stream flow at several points in the stream.  Differences in flow at several points in the stream will enable the data managers to quantify the increase or decrease in a selected reach of the stream.  With this information, gain/loss studies can be done to confirm if there is a groundwater source discharging into the stream, and if so, the amount of water being discharged.   This will document the interaction between groundwater and surface water.

The FlowTracker case is marked with a QR code that connects to the Water Monitoring Project webpage.  The photo to the far right is the FlowTracker in the field case.

YSI Pro DDS (Digital Sampling System)

YSI ProDSS (Digital Sampling System) Handheld multi-parameter meter provides extreme flexibility for the measurement of Optical Dissolved Oxygen, Turbidity, Conductivity, Specific Conductance, Salinity, Resistivity, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), pH, ORP, Temperature, along with an optional depth sensor. Titanium, “smart” probe technology allows for any combination of probes and no assigned ports. Calibration history is stored inside the probe. Even if the probe switched between devices, its individual calibration is easily found. This professional quality equipment will meet our monitoring needs today and can be adapted for projects into the future.

Monitoring specialists will use this instrument to gather basic water chemistry data from streams, springs, and well water.  Using knowledge about the aquifer formations in the area — the depth of the well, and ground elevation — the aquifer from which the well water is derived can be identified.  Comparison of the chemistry of the aquifer/well water to stream chemistry data will help verify that the aquifer is supplying some portion of the stream flow.


Eno Scientific WellSounder 2010 Pro is a sonic water level meter, is designed, to measure static water level in wells. This portable handheld unit uses sound waves to measure the distance from the top of the well to the water level. This eliminates the need to lower anything into the well, preventing well contamination and clean up. Simply place the probe into a well cap opening and turn the unit on, within seconds the unit will display the static water level measurement.

This unit also allows the user to perform unsupervised drawdown testing. The unit can be set to take measurements at intervals between 1-60 minutes. The unit will turn on, take a measurement, and turn itself back off. The logged information can be downloaded with the included USB Cable and can be displayed as a data file to be opened in a program chosen by the data management specialist. If the data won’t be downloaded immediately, the unit ability will give each well an ID number, which can be stored with the logged data to help keep the data organized.


Microsoft Surface 2 in 1 Tablet and Computer for data management.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ – 13″ Touch Screen 2 in 1 computer with 8GB  Memory, 128GB SSD storage, WiFi and Surface Pro keyboard for managing and storing data. A LaCie external backup hard drive stores all files on site. FlowTracker2 runs only on Windows software.

The Surface Pro 7+ serves as the ES Field Computer that is associated with the Mobile Laboratory and runs the FlowTracker2 software.  The computer enables the monitoring specialists to download the data from the FlowTracker, ProDSS and WellSounder in the field, view the data, make PDF summaries of the results, and transmit the data files back to Environmental Stewardship and data managers for analysis and storage.



This is a work in progress, and we need your help!

The next phase of the work is to recruit and train water monitoring specialists in the use of the instruments.  We have been very fortunate and grateful for the interns that have been provided by Green Gate Farms through their internship program with the University of Texas.  As we identify study areas in Bastrop and Lee Counties, we will need to train others in the use of the instruments and equipment.  If you have a science background, an interest in monitoring technology or data analysis and management, please contact us so we can discuss how you can help.

Water Monitoring Project

Bringing Science to Decision-making!

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